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Showing posts from January, 2018

Living Into the Calling

Scripture:
Eph. 4:1    I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Observation:
Paul jumps right back into the conversation which he began previously. The cosmic unity with Christ is to result in real changes among God’s people. He first reminds the people of his own commitment and life which is given in full service to God. The calling is for all of God’s people to live in unity with Christ and others. We are all called to be God’s holy people with visible changes in our lives marked by the fruit of the spirit. 
Christian grace is to flow from the life of the one who is living into their calling. Others are to be intentionally esteemed and encouraged. This is the true understanding of living a life of humility and gentleness. The unity of God’s people beco…

Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

Scripture:
Ephesians 3:20-21
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Observation:
Paul comes to the doxology portion of this prayer. This is a word of blessing for the readers of his epistle. It comes from his desires for those who are following Jesus Christ. Paul has experienced the abundance of resurrection power in his life. He wants others to live a life beyond their wildest imaginations as well. This is a prayer for ministry for the church. 
Following in the wave or movement of the Holy Spirit we participate in Christ’s work in the world and suddenly discover that much more is accomplished than what we could have ever asked or imagined. The result is that Christ is glorified both now and in future generations to come, throughout all of eternity. So be it — Amen!
Application
Everywhere I go in the world I hear people…

Joining the Saints

Scripture:
Ephesians 3:18-19 I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Observation:
As Paul’s prayer continues he reiterates that which is important to him. His desire is to nurture disciples who will be God’s holy people. These are the saints; not those who have been declared as such by the church, but ordinary people who become extraordinary by the infilling of the Holy Spirit. All are called to be saints, because of Jesus’ incarnation; so that we might be adopted into God’s holy family. The transformation occurs when we become partakers of the divine nature; when we step into a relationship with our holy God. 
Yes, this is a mystery and it’s hard for God’s people to comprehend. This mystery of discipleship goes beyond our human understanding and so Paul tries to given an example. The temple to D…

Your Spiritual Passion

Scripture:
Eph. 3:16 I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, 17 and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.
Observation:
Paul’s deepest desire for the church is that she will be deeply spiritual and passionate about Christ. His emotions are brought to the surface as he pours out his heart in prayer. He does not pray for the charismatic gift of the church, but he prays that the church will be the dwelling place of Jesus Christ. The connection here between the Spirit and Christ is clear. You cannot have one without the other. Christ must dwell in their hearts, and only when this happens will God’s people be strengthened by the power of the Spirit. There is no Spirit without Christ and there is no Christ without the Spirit.
Paul’s prayer is that the church be made up of individuals who have a spiritual passion because Christ is dw…

Praying to the Father of All People Groups

Scripture:
Eph. 3:14   For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.
Observation:
Paul picks up the prayer which he began in chapter one. In many ways this call to the church is infused throughout with prayer, for Paul breathes deeply for the life of the churches he has birthed in Christ. These churches, filled with believers needed a much deeper spiritual understanding. This involved embracing the central mystery of God which is found in the joyful hope of reconciliation. Harmony and unity are to be restored in this new creation and the church is to be a reflection of this in the love of Christ.
In this prayer Paul comes humbly before the Father, kneeling and giving honor. It was the custom in Paul’s days to stand and to pray, so this posture is foreign. It is a sign of humility before the throne of the almighty Father. This is an affirmation of God, as Father, who is the source of all things. The word that Paul uses …

The Church, on Center Stage

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Scripture:
Ephesians 3:10 so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him.
Observation:
What becomes clear is that the church has unique role to play in revealing God’s mystery. This mystery of ministry among all peoples ushers in new era. Suddenly the church becomes the theater where her actions are on display. Spectators in the heavenly realm are focused and intent upon what God is doing in the theater of the church. What happens in the church is highlighted on center stage, as God’s wisdom is manifest in the variegated, multi-faceted diversity for all of earth and heaven to see. The original word for “rich variety” is the same word used to describe Joseph’s coat of many colors. It is only used here in the New Te…

Citizens With the Saints

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Scripture:
Eph. 2:11   So then, remember that at one time you Gentiles by birth, called “the uncircumcision” by those who are called “the circumcision”—a physical circumcision made in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15 He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16 and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. 17 So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those wh…

Grace and Mercy

Scripture:
Ephesians 2:4-10
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us 5 even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9 not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
Observation:
The depths of God’s love are revealed in grace and mercy. Paul wants the Ephesian church to grasp what it is that Jesus has truly done for them, and only in this way can they appreciate the gifts and respond appropriately. God has reached out to all of humanity through p…

The Church and Cosmic Union

Scripture:
Ephesians 1:22-23
22 And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Observation:
Paul has been praying for the believers in Ephesus and now he goes into a description of the power of Christ and the role of the church. Jesus Christ, through resurrection power is now seated on the throne at the right hand of God the Father. Jesus is the head over the church, as ruler. Christ as the head, and the church as the body come to realize a type of cosmic union. This means that the church can experience the power at work which brings about new creation. United with Christ the church can receive a foretaste of the cosmic union of heaven and earth and experience resurrection power.
Application
In a world that degrades and shames the church we are stunned to grasp the words of the Apostle Paul. The church was not respected in his day, but looked down upon as some kind of a sec…

How to Pray

Scripture:
Ephesians 1:17-19 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.
Observation:
Reading Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians Christians is enlightening. As their spiritual father and mentor, he knows what it is that they need in their lives. It appears that one of his greatest concerns is for their spiritual growth and development. Here, he becomes an example for us in prayer.
Paul prays in the Trinity, recognizing the role of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and our need for full participation in this holy relationship. It is by participation in the Triune God that we come to know God. That is the goal — t…

How Will You Live Today?

Scripture:
James 4:13-17
Boasting about Tomorrow
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a town and spend a year there, doing business and making money.” Yet you do not even know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wishes, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance; all such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, commits sin.
Observation:
The author was addressing the wealthy who could not be bothered with the things of God. They were consumed with their own lifestyle and the plans that they were making. At the same time there seemed to be a misconception regarding what was of “true value.” 
Humanity continues to have free will, but our lives are to be graced by God. Participating in God’s work in this world is what we do today. The things of God have permanence but …

Starting Afresh

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Scripture:
Psalms 148:7-12
Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and all deeps, fire and hail, snow and frost, stormy wind fulfilling his command! Mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars! Wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds! Kings of the earth and all peoples, princes and all rulers of the earth! Young men and women alike, old and young together!
Observation:
When the God of all creation is encountered, there is nothing that we can do, but praise the Lord. That praise rises up from everything that senses behold. It’s in the midst of nature that we begin to recognize the awesome creative abilities of God. We see God in the ocean depths, the weather currents, the hills, the trees and every living creature. Suddenly we notice that all together, creation is singing a song of praise to God on high. It’s starting afresh with an awareness of God’s holy presence in everything. The result is that even the powers created by humanity bow before God. 
Application
W…